Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

H.E. Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli (Norway)
289.   My delegation would like to thank the proponents for the revised Waiver Proposal. We would also like to thank the European Union for the proposal made today. The COVID19 health crisis is worsening and has widespread implications. Urgent solutions are therefore required, especially those aimed at increasing the production of vaccines, medicines and treatments for COVID-19, and ensuring their equitable distribution. 290.   Cooperation and solidarity are essential to tackle the pandemic. Members must urgently prioritize health over commercial interests. Equitable access to vaccines is an ethical imperative to prevent the health crisis from becoming more protracted. For this reason, we encourage taking a comprehensive approach to this problem that is affecting us all, including by trying to ensure to prevent the spread of infections and mutations of the virus from countries without the necessary inoculants. 291.   Paraguay has secured 8,279,800 doses of vaccines so far but has only received 484,400 doses; less than 6% of what we paid for after considerable efforts. Vaccine shortages on the market, export restrictions imposed by certain Members, vaccine hoarding and logistical problems in importing these products into our country have significantly delayed our immunization process. At the same time, we read in the news that vaccine tourism is booming and that in some countries unused vaccines are expiring, while there is an urgent need in other parts of the world, particularly in developing countries. We firmly believe that there is a pressing need for reinforcement and innovation through alternatives that enable a rapid increase in the production of vaccines and their corresponding distribution and use as soon as possible, where other mechanisms prove to be insufficient. 292.   We therefore recognize the proposed text as a call to continue broad discussions on the various positions and to seek convergences. It is true that waivers alone may not be enough to guarantee access to vaccines, but we have a shared responsibility to search for responses that provide a solution in the short term, in order to avoid further human losses worldwide. We must ensure joint actions to find solutions by including all sectors, encouraging public-private partnerships, strengthening knowledge and technology transfer, and increasing global vaccine production while accelerating global vaccine distribution. 293.   In this regard, my delegation agrees in principle with the need to move forward in the textbased negotiations, calling for openness and willingness by all Members in considering measures that contribute to equitable access to vaccines. We believe that the revised draft text offers a way for the WTO to make a real contribution to the pandemic crisis, but we hope that additional immediate measures related to the vaccine supply chain and their components will be implemented, and that trade facilitation measures for equitable distribution will be promoted.
54. The Chair recalled that the last formal meeting on 30 April had been dedicated to the "Proposal for a Waiver from Certain Provisions of The TRIPS Agreement for the Prevention, Containment and Treatment of Covid-19" had been circulated by India and South Africa on 2 October 2020. It had since been co-sponsored by the delegations of Kenya, Eswatini, Mozambique, Pakistan, Bolivia, Venezuela, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, the African Group, the LDC Group, the Maldives, Fiji, Namibia, Vanuatu, Indonesia and Jordan.
55. Since the formal meeting on 30 April, the co-sponsors had circulated a joint statement on 17 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/677, and a revised decision text for the proposed waiver on 21 May 2021, which had been circulated in document IP/C/W/669/Rev.1.
56. At the request of co-sponsors, the Council had held an open-ended informal meeting on 31 May where the co-sponsors presented the revised proposal, and Members had had a first opportunity to exchange views on the revised proposal. He said that, at the conclusion of the meeting, he had noted that a large number of delegations had called for the commencement of text-based negotiations, and that he had appealed to those Members to come forward with their suggestions regarding practical modalities and formats for such a process. To Members that had indicated that they were still examining the revised proposal, he had expressed his hope that they would be in a position to engage in a more substantive discussion at the formal Council meeting. To Members that had indicated their intention to present concrete proposals in the near future, he had urged them to submit such proposals sooner rather than later in order to enrich the Council's deliberations, and given the urgency of this issue as underlined by most Members.
57. He said that he had also reminded Members that the next regular formal meeting of the Council was scheduled for 13-14 October, and that Members should reflect on how the Council should report to the next General Council meeting scheduled for 21-22 July. In addition to comments related to the substance of the proposal before the Council, he invited delegations to express their views on how this issue should be taken forward, so that he and the Secretariat could make appropriate arrangements.
58. The representatives of South Africa; Tanzania, on behalf of the African Group; Mongolia; Malaysia; Fiji; Egypt; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Indonesia; Bangladesh; Australia; Mexico; the Plurinational State of Bolivia; the European Union; the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Paraguay; Maldives; Chinese Taipei; the Republic of Korea; Nepal; Turkey; Canada; Chile; Singapore; Jordan; New Zealand; Vanuatu; Ukraine; Norway; China; Hong Kong, China; Brazil; the United Kingdom; Switzerland; Japan; the Russian Federation; El Salvador; Mozambique; Philippines; Angola; Jamaica; the United States; Peru; Argentina; Chad on behalf of the LDC Group; Viet Nam; Namibia; the European Union; India; and Iran took the floor.
59. The Chair said that while he detected continuing disagreement about certain fundamental questions regarding the issues underlying the waiver – and remaining questions on the revised provisions on scope and termination – he had also not heard any objections to engaging in a textbased process on the waiver proposal. In light of the urgency of the matter, he would consult with Members regarding the timing and format of such a process, which could have the General Council scheduled for 21-22 July as a natural target date. Such a process would always need to respect the principles of openness, inclusiveness and transparency. With this in mind, he was planning to convene an open-ended informal meeting on 17 June 2021 to inform Members on his consultations on the matter until that time, and on the possible process leading up to July.
60. He echoed the Director-General in saying that the issue of equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics was both the moral and economic issue of our time, and an issue which needed to be addressed with urgency. He said that that Members shared the common goal of providing equitable access to these products for the global population as soon as possible, even if they differ on where to place the emphasis of this endeavour. He was hopeful that in continuing urgent and focused discussion on the IP issues relevant to the pandemic, Members could soon agree on pragmatic solutions to any problems that can directly improve Members' pandemic response.
61. The Council took note of the statements made and agreed to revert to the matter at its next meeting.
IP/C/M/100, IP/C/M/100/Add.1